SI President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen

Caroline Auckland, SI Tunbridge Wells & District

President Mariet welcomed everyone and remarked that as Bournemouth styles itself the ‘Coast with the most’ today, it must be the Coast with the most Soroptimists! A fitting place therefore for this her final official SI President’s presentation.

She asked has the status of women and girls really progressed?

Quoting Simone de Beauvoir she reflected that there has been a call for change but noted that the journey has been slow due to inequalities in pay and gender balance in business. She firmly declared that ‘Our work is not yet done’ and the Soroptimist global programme must continue with equality at its core, backed by the UN belief that the full participation of women enables effective change.

Mariet stressed the importance of continuing to highlight our projects and concerns to our UN representatives to enable showcasing our work and strengthening our advocacy power within the UN in order to influence international development policies and programmes.

As President of Women for Water Partnership Mariet reported on her President’s Appeal ‘Women, Water and Leadership’ the audience gave a hearty round of applause at hearing of the magnificent £405,000 raised for the 2017-19 appeal. More details can be viewed on the SI website.

The project has not ended however, as other needs have been identified and local groups will continue to provide support in this area.

Every level of the Soroptimist organisation was mentioned, key figures warmly thanked, and future leaders welcomed. Also a report on the progress of the Future African Federation was presented with the expectation that by December the objective of 2000 members would be reached enabling a ballot to all members to be distributed in January 2020.

Mariet stressed the importance of digital communications in order to propel Soroptimist International into the future and highlighted how using our skills we can share our knowledge and encouraged embracing global communication platforms. She said what was once a vision, has now become a blueprint and that a pilot study in digital communications will soon become a reality. There were murmurs of agreement within the auditorium and with this Mariet introduced the YouTube presentation from the recent International Conference in Kuala Lumpur, this can also be viewed on the Soroptimist International website.

Mariet suggested that whilst we should enjoy the centenary celebrations in 2021, she challenged Soroptimists to embrace the future and look for new ways of doing old things. Thus, ensuring that we are a relevant and strong organisation. We should also consider our organisation as others see us, so that we can consolidate our message and streamline our brand to achieve equality. She asked us to close our eyes and visualise the Soroptimist organisation in 100 years’ time and all that we wish it to be. She closed with President’s Sue Williams words #ThinkOnIt.